Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Variety is the spice of life!



Good morning!  Sometimes I think that when people look at my blog or my Etsy shop that they may not see a cohesive product…and I worry about that a little sometimes.  However, I just enjoy doing all the things that I do too much to get rid of any of them.  I know I could maximize my time and efforts if I chose one endeavor and focused only on that, like quilting or bag making or pattern writing.  But I love them all dearly.  And there’s something to that saying, “Variety is the spice of life”, am I right?  In my previous career, I was an agriculture science teacher.  Let me tell you…that is a job where you never have to worry about having the same day twice!  That’s what made it fun and exciting, and that’s why I love being able to create a multitude of things.  The teacher in my wants to share patterns and tutorials to give a love of sewing to others, and the bright color lover in me (I was obsessed with Lisa Frank, growing up in the 90s!!!) loves to translate that love into bags and quilts.  I know that my "creative process" (I really don't take myself too seriously, so don't roll your eyes at that) would suffer if I didn't have all of these things to throw myself into.   





I love making things that last.  I want the things I create to have some sort of impact.  I want to bring happy colors and joy to people, even if it is in some small way.  So today, I’m going to share one part of my creative business with you that I don’t focus on too much on the blog.  I started making my Mamacita Loca bags just a few years ago (I still have the very first one I made and don’t ever plan to get rid of it…kind of like when businesses frame their first dollar they make!).  I loved the idea of the embroidered handbags I was seeing at rodeos and stock shows at different vendor booths.  The aesthetic was loud (which I loved), but I wasn’t crazy about the selection of embroidery designs available on the bags.  I started thinking of how much I would LOVE to see some Calaveras embroidered on the bags and more Dia De Los Muertos themed items.  My love for Halloween runs deep, and I always was obsessed with Day of the Dead when I learned about it in high school.  So I started making some simple bags and adding embroidery to them.  I even offer custom embroidered monograms for the bags.  They look really great (and I feel like you don’t have to worry as much about your purse getting stolen!).

Like any endeavor that is started from the ground up, there were lots of things that needed to be improved on.  For one, I had zero background in bag making, aside from some free patterns I had gotten online for some VERY simple quilted bags.  I didn’t really know anything about stabilizers or interfacing.  Luckily, I knew I needed to refine all these things before I offered these bags to my customers.  I am pretty proud of how far they’ve come, and that I still make these bags 100% myself.  No one else touches them, start to finish.  I feel like I’m able to offer a really great, handmade product that can offer a sense of personalized style. 


One of my first Mamacita Loca handbags

This bag was one of my earliest bags (as you can tell from the lighting and poor photography!).  I get most of my skull embroidery designs from Urban Threads Embroidery, and I absolutely love their site.  I was a little disillusioned when I first started embroidering before I found them, and was disappointed in how “traditional” most of the embroidery websites were.  I wanted something that felt young and fresh, and they were the answer! 



I’ve moved away a little from the blatant DDLM themes and have started moving towards the boho scene with colorful arrows and a little southwestern influence.  I have always loved Mexican style saddle blankets and started using the serape-fabric with the faux leather for a really bold look. 


Anyway, I don’t plan on editing out bag making anytime soon, and I just wanted to share this part of my creative process with you.  I really love the entire process, from selecting the fabrics and then choosing an embroidery design, selecting threads to coordinate with the design and the fabrics, and then putting the whole bag together.  These are available in my Etsy shop under the Mamacita Loca listings, so go have a look HERE!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Working with baby :)

Good morning!  I'm going to take a brief pause from the regularly scheduled program to be real for a minute...and fair warning...there is not much sewing talk in this blog post.  I want to talk about running a business while taking care of a baby.  

My husband and I are both SO extremely blessed to be able to work from home.  However, he does have to travel some.  Which means our usual schedule of passing the baby off to one another takes a break and I'm full time care giver for a short period of time.  Which is AWESOME.  There's some sarcasm in that comment, but there is also 100% truth.  As I type this, I can hear my little girl baby talking through the baby monitor that's perched a foot from me at all times when she isn't on me.  I never thought I would say this, but it is music to my ears.  And while I may not get all 50 tasks on my daily to do list completed in 24 hours, I'm fine with dragging the incomplete tasks to the top of my list for the next day.  

I was very naive in thinking running a quilting business AND being daycare manager to my little one would be a piece of cake.  There are times when it's trying and I'm not sure I'm going to make the deadlines I set for myself, but it always seems to work out.  I'm no expert in time management, but I'd like to share some of the things I've implemented to still be able to work a minimum of a 40 hour work week.

1.  Wake up at 3:30-4:00 AM...Luckily, (for now, anyway) baby girl sleeps in until 9:30.  That gives me about 5 hours of UNINTERUPTED work time.  Granted, I can't always leave the house and walk out to the studio, but I can brainstorm and plan for upcoming projects, write invoices, and calculate estimates for customers.  

2.  NEVER sleep when the baby sleeps...If I got one piece of advice over and over again before and after I had this sweet baby, it was "Sleep when the baby sleeps".  I will say, I don't enjoy naps.  I lay there, thinking about how much time I am wasting not falling asleep and run through my list of things I could be getting done, instead of getting some shut-eye.  I try to make the most of every tiny nap she takes and bust my hump to get some quality work done.  And I can honestly say that was the worst advice I was given (that's saying something!)

3.  Basically, it's just more of one and two.  Early bed time for baby means more work time for me.  For some reason, I thought I had all these great tips on how to run a business and be a stay at home mom, but all it boils down to is making the most of your time while the baby doesn't need you.  Also, don't waste time on inconsequential tasks (IE makeup ;) .  Unless there are appointments with real people that day.  Then, don't skimp!

And finally, what do I really know???  My sweet little angel is only 4 months old.  I'm sure someone is reading this, shaking their head, and saying...well wait another week and we'll see how that works out for you.  

So I'm going to end with...this parenting gig is much harder than anyone could ever explain.  And the hard work really hasn't started for us.  So here's to muscling through...and why do I want to add an emoji to every sentence I type (insert eye rolling emoji here)...?  Have a great week and hopefully I'll have some sewing goodness to share next week!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Chevron Table Runner free tutorial with foundation paper piecing

So St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner--let's face it--everything is right around the corner!  I feel like I blink and the week is over ;)--anyway, you probably need some greenery in the kitchen to avoid getting pinched, right?  Well, you're in luck (like what I did there??), because I've teamed up with Janome to bring you a super simple tutorial for a table runner.  If St. Patty's Day isn't your thing, you can easily swap out the colors for something more suiting and make it your own.  

So pictured below are a few great supplies to have on hand for foundation paper piecing.  I absolutely love my add-a-quarter ruler.  It has a little lip that you butt up against the edge of your fabric for easy trimming.  I'm also a big fan of Cristy Fincher's glue basting tips that you can get HERE.  They screw onto the top of a regular bottle of Elmer's school glue and are fantastic for distributing just the right amount of glue to the fabric.  And some 8.5" x 11" newsprint paper--you can use standard printing paper if you don't have this on hand and don't want to make a special trip for it.  The newsprint tears away a little easier than the heavier weight printer paper, so that's why I prefer it.  And a glue stick!  The rest of the supplies are pretty standard sewing supplies.  


Foundation Paper Piecing Supplies

When you foundation paper piece, you sew on the printed side of the paper.  The fabric is secured by using a little glue from the glue stick to adhere it to the opposite side, and the elmer's glue to add another piece of fabric.  Be sure you shorten your stitch length--a good rule of thumb is to shorten your stitch length to 1.5 or smaller.  This perforates the paper enough to easily tear away later.  If you don't shorten the stitch length, you could play tug of war trying to tear the paper away once your blocks are complete!


Use a ruler to trim away the excess fabric and paper (you may want to use a rotary cutter that you designate for paper use for this), making sure you leave the 1/4" seam allowance in tact!


Visit the Janome Website for the full instructions on how to finish this sweet project!

Enjoy the rest of your week!  I know I will--as I type this, my husband has taken our 3 month old for a walk so I can have a little break :)  I love her to pieces, but my lanta--sometimes it's nice to have a minute for yourself!  Happy sewing!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Red Heart Quilt - client quilt

I recently had the privilege of quilting this gorgeous quilt for one of my clients.  The piecing is just gorgeous and the quilt was donated to a charity event/fundraiser.  I quilted the quilt with free motion hearts all over the top.  

Quilt Pieced by Debra B.
 This was such a joy to quilt--check out the close up of the free motion hearts :)



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Quilted Oven Mitt Tutorial (Free project)

Yikes!!  So I'm a little late on sharing this, but it will be here for future reference ;)


Do you love a fun (and quick) project for Valentine's sewing?  Check out this sweet tutorial I teamed up with Janome to create HERE .  

This is a great project to incorporate some low volumes with a great print that you've been saving (I used Liberty of London), but you might now have a lot of! 


The oven mitt tutorial can also be customized--you can leave out the reverse applique option for a simpler finish and enjoy your new oven mitt quicker.

Happy belated Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Embrace the Chaos Workshop with Libs Elliott :)

Libs Elliott was the guest speaker for the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild Meeting!  It was so awesome to have her lecture at our meeting and present a workshop the following day.  She was such a fun guest speaker (and even did her workshop for us on her birthday!)  

Libs delivering lecture at SAMQG meeting
The workshop Libs presented for our guild was "Embrace the Chaos" and was a great way to discover some planned improv piecing.  I know I have a lot of trouble just winging it and creating something without any planning.  Libs' workshop was a really unique presentation on how to create something similar to her code method without the use of electronics.  

This is the quilt top that I ended up with (after I enlarged the blocks quite a bit)...these are 12" blocks, so it's roughly 60" x 60".


I'm waiting for a small break in my work load until I can quilt this for myself, so I'll post an update as soon as I get it finished!  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Graffiti Quilting my Karlee Porter Panel


I know I already posted about attending the Karlee Porter workshop that SAMQG hosted a few months ago--but I really need to post about this as well!  Karlee has some really awesome panels that she designed, and if you haven't felt them in person, they are buttery soft.  This one is called "Explosion" (picture is from Karlee Porter's website), and if you want one, click HERE to order your own!  And FYI, this one is ginormous!  
"Explosion" printed tapestry designed by Karlee Porter (picture from Karlee's website)




I love sewing and piecing and constructing quilt tops as much as the next person, but seriously...it is so awesome to load a quilt top and not worry about the hours, days, weeks it took to piece it.  Especially when you get to skip that part entirely.  There's nothing better that just mindlessly losing yourself in a quilt while quilting.  This is my ultimate stress reliever.







The back of the quilt (Tula Pink wide back)


I haven't hung this one yet, as I haven't bound the edges, but I will update this blog post once it's finally finished.